A new year has arrived! The turning of the calendar tends to spark the question “wait, is there something I’m supposed to do now?” There is certainly no shortage of messaging around the new year and things you should be doing (set resolutions, improve your health, write out new goals, and countless others every where you look).
From a personal finance point of view, there are also many things you can consider doing. In talking with clients this week, I focused on things worth prioritizing during this busy (and often times overwhelming) start to a new year
1.) Confirm 2023 estimated taxes and January payment (if needed) – and stay on top of tax prep
The turning of the calendar marks the end of a tax year. While you have until April to file your taxes (or October if you extend), the final estimated payments for the 2023 tax year are due January 16th, 2024 (extra day given due to MLK holiday). If you are self-employed, make estimated payments, or had a major life event during the year (such as marriage or a material capital gain), it’s worth doing a quick check of your estimated tax liability and payments to date to verify you are sufficiently paid in to avoid penalties and interest come final tax calculations with your return.
And while I realize you have until April to file, the sooner you can get your tax documents organized and your taxes filed, the sooner you know what you owe (or what you’ve overpaid). Don’t wait until the last minute for any of these income-tax related matters – work to get it done in a timely manner and you will be glad you did!
2.) Review employer plan contribution levels for 2024
Many individuals work for businesses that offer retirement savings via 401k or 403b plans. The annual contribution limits for those plans change each calendar year and depending on the plan, employees may have to change their own contribution (versus it happening automatically) if they wish to max out. For 2024, the max contribution is $23,000, with an additional $7,500 allowed for those over the age of 50. If you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, log in, check your contribution level (set as either a $ or % per pay check), and make sure it is in line with your goals for 2024
3.) Check in on individual retirement account funding
In addition to employer retirement plans (see #2), you may have Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Now is a great time to check your funding levels for both 2023 – and plan for 2024 funding. As it relates to tax year 2023, you have until tax filing time in April to make contributions to these accounts, so review what you’ve done so far and see if you can max out (as the annual limits are “use it or lose it”). And if you’ve maxed out for 2023 and have cash on hand, consider making your 2024 contributions now to get those funds in the proper account and invested. (For 2023, the limit was $6,500 plus $1,000 catch-up over age 50. For 2024, it is $7,000, plus the same $1,000 catch-up over age 50). Please note your income level also has an impact on your ability to fund IRAs, so consult with your tax and financial advisor before proceeding
4.) Review your investment portfolio
If you remained invested in the market in 2023, odds are high that you had a great year of returns. Congratulations! When markets move materially in either direction, you may find yourself out of line with your target allocations (which again have been set based on your long-term goals and risk tolerances). Now is a perfect time to review your investment allocation against your target and rebalance for any “drift” that has occurred. You can also review your individual holdings to ensure they are well suited for the current investing environment and remain appropriate for your specific situation
5.) Set a few goals for this year
I know, I know. You are probably sick of the new year’s resolution discussions and goal-setting emails. However, there tends to be a certain amount of momentum in the early part of the year that is helpful and can work in our favor. Can’t hurt to try! I’ve set two big financial related goals for myself to accomplish in 2024 – execute revisions to my estate plan and complete a full review of my property & casualty insurance (as well as complete full written and video documentation of all the items in my home). These items have been weighing on my mind and I’m excited to get them done!
Happy 2024 – here’s to a healthy and joyful year ahead!
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